The opportunities for writing and directing plays were abundant when I resided in New York City. Once I moved to New England in the early ’70s, and was no longer part of an active theater group, short fiction became my primary writing outlet. For many years I’ve employed a service that requires me to have a new or revised story every two months, which they then submit to various literary journals and magazines. This has functioned as a beneficial, albeit artificial, deadline for me without which my productivity would certainly have suffered. Concurrently I always have a novel in the making. The short fiction time limit permits a periodic return to the novel-in-progress with a fresh eye. Trading off between formats has worked well since I trust that one’s best work occurs in the rewriting.
The years I spent writing and directing plays do materially inform my fiction writing. When preparing to draw a character I rely on Constantin Stanislavski’s concept of emotional memory to resurrect that “person” within my consciousness. In many respects it’s more an eidetic and less cerebral process.
If one were to ask me what advice I might offer to other writers, I share the following thoughts of esteemed authors that I hold most true:
“The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory. That is our duty. If we don’t fulfill it, we feel unhappy. . . . Besides, the life of a writer, is a lonely one. You think you are alone, and as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the center of a vast circle of invisible friends whom you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward.” Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
“The nature of good fiction is that it dwells in ambiguity.” E. L. Doctorow (1931-1915)
“Fiction is the art form of human yearning. That is absolutely essential to any work of fictional narrative art–a character who yearns. And that is not the same as a character who simply has problems… that yearning is at the heart of all temporal art forms.” Robert Olen Butler
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